Category Archives: HVAC

Air Conditioner: Repair vs. Replace

Are you wondering if it is time to replace your air conditioner, or if it is worth your investment to repair? Then this month’s installment of ‘The Advantage’ is a must-read for you! We are here to help weigh the options so you can make the best choice for you, your home, and your wallet.

There can be a lot to mull over with this decision. To help simplify the process, we have a great list of some of the first things you should take into consideration when deciding between repairing or replacing.

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  • Age of your unit – Energy Star recommends air conditioning units older than 10 years be replaced. So if yours is under 10, lean toward repairing. They may very well last longer than 10 years, but will lose efficiency over time, costing you more in the long run with repair costs and increased utility bills due to decreased efficiency.
  • Maintenance history – If you know the maintenance history of your unit and it has been inspected regularly over its life, it will likely last longer than one that has not, so repair is definitely a viable option.
  • Moving – Determine how long you plan to live in your current home. If you intend on moving soon, a repair will likely be a more cost-effective choice.
  • Noise – Is your unit excessively noisy or does it turn off randomly? It may be over-exerting itself and in need of a check-up. Annual or semiannual routine maintenance plans can help prevent these problems before they occur and keep your entire HVAC system running more efficiently.
  • 5000 Rule – Multiply the age of the equipment by the repair cost, and if that exceeds $5,000, then you want to replace. If less, repair.

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  • Breakdown occurrence/energy bill – Has your air conditioner broken down multiple times while running over the last few years? Have you seen an increase in your monthly bill? Then it probably can’t handle your needs, and replacing may be in your best interests. Repairs can often add up and cost more than a new system altogether.
  • Changing temps – If your system is not keeping your home at a constant temp or within a few degrees of your setting, it can be caused by a number of issues. Having one of our HVAC specialists come out and inspect your system and possibly hire a qualified technician to run an energy assessment of your home is a great starting point. Ultimately, your unit may be going out and it might be time for an upgrade.
  • R-22 (refrigerant) – If your system requires additional refrigerant, you likely have a coolant leak. Topping off a system with R-22 refrigerant, also known as Freon, can cost over $100 per pound, and fixing the leak along with putting in several pounds of refrigerant can wind up costing anywhere from $550 to $1,000. If your unit takes R-22 and it develops a leak, replacement is likely your best option as repairing a leak, adding refrigerant, and replacing your compressor can cost you about the same as buying a new unit. Not to mention R-22 prices have soared in recent years due to the EPA’s eventual phase-out of the chemical. HVAC manufacturers quit producing units “charged” with R-22 in 2010, and production of R-22 will end in 2020. It will be replaced with a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, R-410A.

If you are still pondering, try visiting this website to check the efficiency and potential cost savings of your equipment. Still can’t decide whether to repair or replace? Give us a call or visit our website, and we would be happy to assess your system and give our professional opinion.

Springtime Maintenance Saves You Money

Have you ever wondered if a HVAC maintenance plan is worth it? This month’s edition of ‘The Advantage’ is here to tell you why having a plan in place is a good idea for both you and your budget.

Warmer weather is well on its way, and it’s time to dust off that air conditioner and be sure it is in working order. If it’s time to repair an old HVAC system or even have a new one installed, be sure to ask our service technician about our extended HVAC service contract or maintenance plan agreement. These plans have a set fee to guarantee you get our ongoing services and routine maintenance to your HVAC system.

There are many benefits to a regular HVAC maintenance plan, such as:

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Inspections and professional cleanings to your air conditioner before summer and your heating system at the beginning of winter ensure that your HVAC system is running properly, and can also help extend the life of your equipment. A heating or cooling tune-up will test your thermostat operation, motor, wiring connections, drainage system, and more. Having one of our qualified technicians inspect your system a couple of times per year can help identify issues while they are still minor and less complicated to fix, rather than waiting until they become major issues that cause damage to your system, resulting in expensive repairs or replacement.

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A clean filter traps dust, dirt, and other allergens to keep your air clean. Of all illnesses, 50% are either caused or aggravated by polluted air, according to the American College of Allergists, meaning that nasty cold going around your household could actually be caused or worsened by filter problems. At each maintenance visit, we will be sure you have a clean filter and can even supply specialty filters if needed.

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Tune-ups provided with your HVAC maintenance plan result in savings on your monthly electric bill over time. Your gas or electric furnace, heat pump, and air conditioner might be silently costing you more than necessary, but our technicians can spot potential issues that are affecting your system’s efficiency and help to optimize its performance for more affordable utility costs.

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Some manufacturers require routine maintenance as a term of the warranty. If regular maintenance is not performed the warranty could be voided, giving them the right to deny any claims for repair work due to poor or improper maintenance. An unfortunate event such as this could leave expensive repair costs up to you as the homeowner, so be sure to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of your warranty and schedule maintenance as needed.

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We offer our emergency services with or without a routine maintenance plan. If you discover a problem with your HVAC system, simply call us. We’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to make any repairs or replacements you may need. You can rest assured that your equipment is being well taken care of, running efficiently, and will last you a long time. Sit back and relax, knowing that your system is running at its best and that if anything goes wrong, we’ll be here to help.

We stand behind all of our work with our 100% satisfaction guarantee, ‘The Vilandre Advantage’. A routine maintenance plan is a low-cost, effective way to protect your HVAC system. Whether you are installing new equipment or have an existing system in place, it is always a good time to call us and set up a routine maintenance plan that works best for you and your family.

6 Tips to Save Money While You’re on Vacation

As winter arrives in North Dakota, warm, sunny beaches start to call our names! Are you heading out on a winter vacation? More than likely you have had the mail held and asked a neighbor to keep an eye on things while you are away, but did you remember to ready your electricity and HVAC system for your absence? It is important for not only cost savings, but also safety reasons.

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Below are six tips to remember when the packing is done and you are almost ready to set sail in paradise.

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Reset the thermostat on your HVAC system to 60 degrees. This will save you money without risking frozen pipes and flooding, while still preventing moisture from building up on your primary heat exchanger, which could cause a possible shortage as well as mildew problems. Temperatures below freezing make it unsafe to turn the thermostat entirely off, and in our area we have the humidity working against us. We also tend to turn the heat back up to 72 or higher upon our return, causing extra stress to the HVAC unit. A programmable thermostat makes it convenient to remotely check on the temperature in your house and slowly increase the heat back to a comfortable setting over a couple of days, helping to prevent overworking your HVAC unit.

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This lower temperature will prevent water in the lines and tank from freezing and causing damage, but won’t keep hot water on hand that you are not going to be using. If you are not quite sure how to change the water heater to its “vacation” setting, give us a call!

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Turn off the water supply to washing machines and toilets; this can help avoid an unexpected leak while you’re away. Double-check the insulation around water pipes that are close to unheated areas and add insulation if needed, as an added precaution to prevent a frozen pipe while you’re away.

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Be sure all interior doors are open. This will keep the heat circulating throughout the entire house and create less of a chance for cold spots where a pipe could freeze or a plant might die from inadequate warmth. If you have someone checking your home, it is a good idea to place a thermometer where it can easily be seen to notify the person of any dangerous temperature drops in your home.

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Set your refrigerator to 42 degrees and freezer to 5 degrees, to save money while also reducing the odds of returning home to spoiled food. If you are heading off on an extended vacation, donate or discard perishable food items and unplug your fridge to save even more. Also, unplug any “vampire appliances” that continue to use energy even when they are not in use, such as televisions, lamps, entertainment systems and coffee makers.

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If you don’t have motion detectors, it is a good idea to consider investing in them, especially when going on extended vacations. If you do, make sure all the lights are in working order and time them to come on in the evening as the sun sets. You could even set a radio on a timer to ward off possible burglars.

We hope these tips help you have a wonderful, stress-free vacation! If you would like additional information on the care and maintenance of your HVAC system, or help with prepping your system for an extended vacation, or to schedule services to make sure your system is running optimally, contact Vilandres and we would be happy to come give your unit a tune-up before your trip begins.

Why Go Seamless

Welcome back to The Advantage! Last blog we had our minds on gutters, discussing how proper care and maintenance extends the life of not only gutters, but also the building they protect. We’re back today asking, “How do you know when it’s time to upgrade your gutters, and what are the most efficient options on the market available?”

Let’s start with when it is time to replace your old or worn-out gutters. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if any red flags are present indicating that gutter replacement is imminent:

  • Does the exterior of your home or commercial building have mold or peeling paint?
  • Are your gutters sagging or pulling away from your structure due to improper pitching (sloping)?
  • Is there standing water around your building attracting insects or mold?
  • Does the foundation of your home or commercial building have cracks or water in the basement?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, the next step is calling your gutter expert to assess and help you create a plan to best address and correct the problem.

When it comes time to replace your gutters, seamless gutters are the most efficient option available today. The seamless structure eliminates leaks in the gutter system and lessens the opportunity for debris buildup to occur. Conventional sectional gutter systems are made of many sections pieced together by snap-in-place connectors which over time can form leaks at the seams and likely cause wood rot behind the gutter. Where the seams meet on traditional systems is also where many of the blockage problems can originate. This means going seamless will result in less maintenance to the home or commercial building owner as well.

RaincarrierHouseAlthough there are many advantages to choosing seamless over traditional gutter systems, here are the top reasons from our perspective:

  • Custom measurements for exact fitting
  • Baked-on enamel finish never needs painting
  • Protects the value of your home
  • Eliminates unsightly seams
  • Greatly reduces the possibility of leaks
  • Many colors, materials, and styles to choose from
  • Preserves the architectural details of your home or building
  • Less maintenance

Seamless gutters not only have the potential to extend the life of your roof, but also protect your home or commercial building’s value. For more information about seamless gutters or to get an estimate, contact us – our services are always backed by our satisfaction guarantee, the Vilandre Advantage!

Are You Losing Money to Air Leaks?

This month’s edition of The Advantage is all about saving you money! North Dakota is known for our hot, humid summers and icy, cold winters. This means we run the risk of losing both our cooled and heated air to pesky leaks, which are not only uncomfortable and frustrating, but likely to cost you money as well. They cause your equipment to run more than necessary, putting more wear and tear on your HVAC unit while increasing your utility bills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, you can save as much as 10 percent annually on your energy bills (20 percent of your heating and cooling costs) by properly sealing and insulating your home.

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There are measures you can take on your own to spot leakage in your home and repair it with caulk or weather-stripping.

Visual Inspection: When checking outside your home, look for gaps and cracks at the common points of air leakage, especially areas where two different building materials meet, including:

  • Where the foundation and bottom of exterior brick or siding meet
  • Where the siding and chimneys meet
  • Outdoor water faucets
  • All exterior corners

Inside your home, inspect around the following for any cracks and gaps that could cause air leaks:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Baseboards
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Attic hatches
  • Door and window frames
  • Switch plates
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
  • Vents and fans
  • Weatherstripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Electrical and gas service entrances

In the winter months, it may help to locate leaks by wetting your hand to feel any cool drafts.

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Smoke Test: After visual inspection, perform a smoke test to be sure you have found all tough-to-find air leaks:

  1. Pick a cool and windy day to conduct the test. Turn off appliances that create air disturbances, such as stoves, burning furnaces, and water heaters.
  2. Shut all windows, doors, and fireplace flues.
  3. Turn on exhaust fans that blow air outside – dryers, bathroom fans, and stove vents; or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
  4. Light incense and hold it near potential points of air leakage. If smoke begins moving unsteadily back and forth, or it is drawn into or out of the room, this indicates a leak.

To guarantee the job was done right and save time, you can hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy assessment. Remember, the goal of your project is to discover all the air leaks so that you can seal them up tight, which should result in a more comfortable and energy efficient home this winter.

The best way to save money this season is to have efficiently run equipment. In order to ensure your system is up to par on all levels and spot potential money-losing HVAC units in your home, set up an appointment or give us a call at 701.775.4675.

3 Reasons to Choose a Career in HVAC

Choosing a career can be a daunting task. In addition to finding a profession that you are passionate about and have a strong interest in, there are innumerable factors to consider: educational requirements, job security, salary, and opportunities, to name a few. With these considerations in mind, it would be beneficial to anyone looking for available positions to consider a career in the HVAC industry. Take a look at a few of the top reasons to consider a job as an HVAC specialist today:

Growth

In 2012 there were over 267,000 jobs in the HVAC field. In just 10 years, that number is expected to grow 21%, adding as many as 56,000 jobs by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is nearly double the average industry when compared to all other occupations. This predicted growth rate is based on a variety of factors, including the large number of existing systems that will need to be replaced and, perhaps more importantly, the serious need for workers with knowledge of new climate control units and skill in the installation and service of the increasingly intricate technology of advanced systems.

Opportunity

Did you know that for every three skilled workers that are retiring from the trades industry workforce, only one is entering in their place? This, coupled with an estimation that merely 6% of high school students are thinking about a future in the trades, leaves a huge number of jobs currently available in the HVAC field. These surprising numbers mean there are vast opportunities for job placement, career development, and expedited advancement into higher positions.

Security

With a high demand for skilled workers and a low supply of tradesmen entering the field, this leaves a world of opportunity for people entering the HVAC industry. As the current workforce moves towards retirement, it is leaving more positions available, especially to younger workers. So consider HVAC if you’re looking for job security, career growth, and exceptional benefits, not to mention an excess of possibilities for career development, including tuition assistance, apprenticeship programs, or continuing education opportunities.

Interested in learning more about the HVAC industry or employment opportunities?

At Vilandre, we are always on the lookout for motivated, hardworking, and dependable individuals looking for career development in a challenging profession. To learn more, visit our employment page or fill out our online application today.

People’s Choice Award Winner

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We are extremely pleased to announce that we have been named the 2015 Grand Forks Herald People’s Choice Award winner for Best A/C & Heating! This award marks the fourth year in a row that we have been acknowledged in this category by our wonderful, loyal customers. At Vilandre Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, the satisfaction of our customers is our top priority. To be recognized for our hard work in this area by receiving this award multiple years in a row is an honor that everyone on our team highly values. All of us at Vilandre join in saying ‘thank you’ to those who have voted and continue to vote for us. We truly appreciate the opportunity to be awarded this title and will continue to work diligently to keep bringing you the best possible products and services for years to come.

Welcome to The Advantage

Hello and welcome to Vilandre Heating, Air Conditioning, and Plumbing’s new blog, The Advantage! We are thrilled to present you with this new avenue for delivering everything from news and tutorials to events and company information.

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The Advantage is a wonderful addition to our website that will offer useful knowledge for home and business owners alike in the form of tips, how-to’s, industry trends, and more! Stay tuned for excellent information and to keep up with everything there is to know about Vilandre’s.

To receive posts as soon as they have been published, subscribe to our blog today! Have a specific topic you would like us to discuss? Share your questions or ideas with us and we may feature it in our next blog post!